Thursday: Hili dialogue

March 17, 2022 • 6:45 am

Where we are now: We are, as the attached screenshot shows, moored at the dock at Punta Arenas. A slew of new passengers will arrive today and we’ll be heading back to the Peninsula via the Drake Passage by this evening. The good news is that it appears I’ll be able to keep my cabin, which is great news: I not only don’t have to pack up everything and transfer rooms, but I get to keep my balcony.

Early morning in the harbor:

The passengers, up early, are taking buses to the airport for their “bubble” flight to Santiago:

More on Punta Arenas, a populous town of over 120,000 people, when I post the daily doings this afternoon.

Welcome to Thursday, March 17, 2022, and the day I leave on my second voyage to Antarctica. What lies in store? Will we see more penguins? Will we land in new places? Will the virus stalk us again? Stay tuned. I plan to post on new places, and less on places I’ve posted about on the first trip, though of course I will go ashore and take photos. Although much is uncertain, we do know that today is National Irish Food Day. We will have none of that aboard, and in general I find Irish cuisine dire. But their breads are good, as is Guinness.

If you wish, or are Jez Grove, please post the notable events, births, and deaths on this day from the March 17 Facebook page.

The NYT headlines are about the same as those for the past few days (click on the screenshot to read):

Here are the NYT’s pressing developments in Ukraine:

Children sheltering in a theater, parents waiting in line for bread and people simply seeking a night’s rest in their homes have become the latest civilians killed or feared dead in Ukraine as Russian forces taking heavy losses on the battlefield increasingly aim their bombs and missiles at towns and cities.

Rescuers on Thursday began pulling survivors from the wreckage of a theater in the besieged port city of Mariupol, an adviser to the city’s mayor said, a day after an apparent rocket attack destroyed the building where hundreds of people were believed to be taking shelter. The extent of casualties was unknown as Russian forces continued to shell the area, he said, hampering recovery efforts.

In addition, British intelligence has reported that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has “largely stalled”, with the invading troops sustaining heavy casualties and unable to occupy major cities.  Russian troops are reported to have lost 7,000 men, and that will be at least 7,000 Russian families wondering about the usefulness of the war.  (The Ukrainians report a Russian death toll of over 13,000, while the Russians aver that it’s only 498.)

In response to the U.S.’s big aid package to Ukraine, we’re now supplying the Ukrainians with “kamikaze drones” that are effective against Russian armor and can’t be shot down by Russian planes:

As part of the package, the Biden administration will provide Switchblade drones, according to people briefed on the plans. Military officials call the weapon, which is carried in a backpack, the “kamikaze drone” because it can be flown directly at a tank or a group of troops, and is destroyed when it hits the target and explodes.

“These were designed for U.S. Special Operations Command and are exactly the type of weapons systems that can have an immediate impact on the battlefield,” said Mick Mulroy, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.

Finally, in response to a reporter’s question, Biden characterized Putin as a “war criminal”, which indeed he is. I do expect charges to be filed at the Hague, but I also expect that Putin will never face them.

But the Washington Post headline is a bit grimmer (click on screenshot):

Here are the two cities:

The fate of hundreds of people sheltering in a Mariupol theater that was destroyed remained unclear Thursday after Ukrainian officials said rescue efforts were hampered by rubble and continued shelling. City officials said the theater was targeted Wednesday by a Russian airstrike; Moscow denied responsibility. Satellite photos from before the attack showed the word “children,” written in large letters on the ground in Russian on both sides of the theater.

The other is Chernihiv:

Northeast of Chernihiv, a city of more than a quarter-million people, Maxar said it photographed burning homes on Wednesday. The company also said it captured Russian artillery and rocket launchers aimed toward Chernihiv from the outskirts of the city.

The WaPo also reports on Kharkiv:

More than 600 buildings have been destroyed in Ukraine’s second-largest city, home to 1.4 million people, Reuters reported. Shelling has destroyed residences, art museums, libraries and government buildings in a city known for its architecture.

Re the charge of war crimes, the WaPo adds this:

On Wednesday, an International Criminal Court prosecutor, Karim Khan, held a virtual meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky while in Ukraine. Late last month, Mr. Khan said he was seeking authorization to open an investigation into the war, and that his office had already found “a reasonable basis” to believe war crimes had been committed. He said it “had identified potential cases that would be admissible.”

The Russian television producer who staged an extraordinary anti-war protest live on national television said she was “fearful for my safety” but would not “take a single word back” from her statement criticising Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

. . . She told Reuters her actions were intended to send a direct message to the Russian public: “Don’t be such zombies, don’t listen to this propaganda. Learn how to analyse information, learn how to find other sources of information, not just Russian state television.”

A Russian court fined Ovsyannikova 30,000 roubles (£215) on Tuesday for her recorded video in which she violated protest laws. The decision was met with relief by friends and supporters who feared the authorities were preparing serious criminal charges after she disappeared into police custody for nearly 24 hours after her arrest. She has not yet been prosecuted for her live protest on Channel One.

*The Wall Street Journal reports on a battle between Ukrainian and Russian soldiers that was a positive debacle for the Russians. It occurred near the town of Voznesensk:

A rapid Russian advance into the strategic southern town of 35,000 people, a gateway to a Ukrainian nuclear power station and pathway to attack Odessa from the back, would have showcased the Russian military’s abilities and severed Ukraine’s key communications lines.

Instead, the two-day battle of Voznesensk, details of which are only now emerging, turned decisively against the Russians. Judging from the destroyed and abandoned armor, Ukrainian forces, which comprised local volunteers and the professional military, eliminated most of a Russian battalion tactical group on March 2 and 3.

*Changing gears, there’s a WSJ article in which several American college students give short takes on the question “Is self-censorship taking over universities?” The consensus, with one exception, is “yes’ (one of the students is from the University of Chicago), but that one student says that it’s your own fault if you self-censor:

If I choose not to voice my opinion again out of fear of backlash, that is my choice, not censorship. I cannot complain about a perceived lack of debate in the classroom if I am the one refusing to engage. Neither can I expect my classmates not to debate with me, for then they would be the ones self-censoring.

—Carolyn Breckel, Yale University, molecular biophysics (Ph.D.)

I don’t think Ms. Breckel realizes that engagement itself doesn’t often lead to civil discussion, but often to ostracism and name-calling. It’s the climate that is detrimental, and that climate must be fixed.

*From its “education” issue, this Washington Post article (click on link or screenshot), discusses the desires of college students to discuss viewpoints different from theirs, but also their frustration in not having a venue to do so in a polite and constructive fashion. Thus was born the idea of “civil dialogue strategies” at various colleges. (h/t SImon).

The one described in detail is a seminar given at Penn:“Civil Dialogue Seminar: Civic Engagement in a Divided Nation.” It’s connected with “Red and Blue Exchanges”, in which students meet in (moderated) groups to hash out issues like race and immigration:

“We’re trying to put civic dialogue conversation in the context of American history,” Chris Satullo says. “We bring it up to date. This is a rolling conversation where every generation has to figure out how to resolve tensions among the founding ideals.” The class includes a crash course in social psychology — how people often let emotion dictate reason and the benefits and drawbacks to working as a group. Groupthink can “compound errors,” [teacher Chris] Satullo says. On the other hand, “All of us can be smarter than one of us.” The class teaches practical approaches to navigating a heated discussion. These aren’t all as obvious as “avoid stereotypes” or “use ‘I’ statements.” They cover how to frame contrary points of view, to be aware when your emotions are flaring, and how considering which perspectives aren’t present might change the whole discussion. Students receive facilitation training and are given the chance to moderate Red and Blue Exchange events.

There’s also a class called  “with the unassuming title ‘Journalism and Public Service.’ The professor was critic and philosopher Carlin Romano, who took a Socratic approach: putting students on the spot and playing devil’s advocate.”  That, too, was helpful, but it would have to be a psychological wizard to teach these classses. Nevertheless we need more of them—many more. And we need to give all students entering college a brief orientation to the First Amendment.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej is distressed by the Ukraine situation. (Note Szaron sleeping next to Hili):

Hili: Are you reading?
A: I’m trying to but I can’t concentrate.
In Polish:
Hili: Czytasz?
Ja: Próbuję, ale nie mogę się skupić.

And a picture of Kulka, who’s no longer little!

From reader David, a groaner:

From Lorenzo the Cat. Can anybody read the Ukrainian?

From Robert Price:

A tweet from God, who’s funny today:

From Simon:

Tweets from Matthew. This is a very powerful (and in parts gruesome) video. It will achieve its aim of making you hate Putin even more, but it won’t get NATO to impose a “no fly” zone over Ukraine.

For chrissake, doesn’t this guy know that Zelensky’s clothes are his working uniform, the equivalent of an army officer’s uniform, and indicates how serious he is? I doubt that anybody would worry about him “disrespecting” Congress.

I found this one, in which Ziya Tong responds properly:

You call that a sturgeon? Now this is a sturgeon!

This is all true but is spoiled by the bit of wokeness:

It’s always a good day when you can watch two minutes of shoebill behavior, particularly when this bird grabs a snack. If this weird animal didn’t exist, you couldn’t imagine it. Sound up:

33 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1942 – Holocaust: The first Jews from the Lvov Ghetto are gassed at the Belzec death camp in what is today eastern Poland. – Of course, Lvov is now called Lviv and in Ukraine, and currently its residents are  travelling to Poland to avoid death at the hand of a despotic dictator.

    1948 – Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom sign the Treaty of Brussels, a precursor to the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO. – A wise move.

    1950 – Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley announce the creation of element 98, which they name “californium”.

    1960 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the National Security Council directive on the anti-Cuban covert action program that will ultimately lead to the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

    1968 – As a result of nerve gas testing by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in Skull Valley, Utah, over 6,000 sheep are found dead.

    1969 – Golda Meir becomes the first female Prime Minister of Israel.

    1973 – The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph Burst of Joy is taken, depicting a former prisoner of war being reunited with his family, which came to symbolize the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War.

    1992 – A referendum to end apartheid in South Africa is passed 68.7% to 31.2%.

    2000 – Five hundred and thirty members of the Ugandan cult Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God die in a fire, considered to be a mass murder or suicide orchestrated by leaders of the cult. Elsewhere another 248 members are later found dead.

    2003 – Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook, resigns from the British Cabinet in disagreement with government plans for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. – Cook proudly claimed on taking office that the UK’s foreign policy would have an “an ethical dimension”, but we swiftly mislaid it somewhere…

    2004 – Unrest in Kosovo: More than 22 are killed and 200 wounded. Thirty-five Serbian Orthodox shrines in Kosovo and two mosques in Serbia are destroyed. – Fighting in Europe…

    1834 – Gottlieb Daimler, German engineer and businessman, co-founded Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (d. 1900)

    1846 – Kate Greenaway, English author and illustrator (d. 1901)

    1880 – Lawrence Oates, English lieutenant and explorer (d. 1912) – A brave man, although his sacrifice was to no avail.

    1919 – Nat King Cole, American singer, pianist, and television host (d. 1965)

    1938 – Rudolf Nureyev, Russian-French dancer and choreographer (d. 1993)

    1939 – Robin Knox-Johnston, English sailor and first person to perform a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe

    1944 – Pattie Boyd, English model, author, and photographer – Inspiration for George Harrison’s “Something” and Eric Clapton’s “Layla”, amongst other songs by the former buddies.

    1944 – John Sebastian, American singer-songwriter and guitarist

    1951 – Scott Gorham, American singer-songwriter and guitarist

    1979 – Stormy Daniels (born Stephanie Gregory), American adult film actress – and Trump’s nemesis.

    1997 – Katie Ledecky, American swimmer – long may her records stand…!

    Those who began pining for the fjords

    180 – Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (b. 121) – At least he took it stoically…

    1741 – Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, French poet and playwright (b. 1671)

    1782 – Daniel Bernoulli, Dutch-Swiss mathematician and physicist (b. 1700) – he had an effect…

    1853 – Christian Doppler, Austrian physicist and mathematician (b. 1803) – and so did he…!

    1. Yes! Absolutely amazing. The fact that you can point a big telescope at just about any part of the sky and see lots of galaxies is very humbling (well, it should be anyway). It really makes the things we get upset about seem silly.

  2. According to the BBC:

    Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky says another Russian general has been killed during fighting.

    He didn’t name the officer, but an adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry said Maj Gen Oleg Mityaev had been killed by the far-right Azov Battalion.

    Gen Mityaev was killed near Mariupol, Ukrainian media said.

    He is the fourth general reportedly killed, leading some to ask why such senior members of the Russian military are so close to the front-line.

    Analysts believe that around 20 generals are leading Russian operations in Ukraine, meaning that if all the reported deaths are confirmed, one fifth of Russia’s generals have been killed in action.

    1. Possibly in the Russian military they obtain generals similar to the Italians in WWII. Whenever three soldiers get together they can proclaim one a general.

    2. I think this may be a symptom of the communications difficulties that the Russians are experiencing. The generals have to go into (more) dangerous areas to find out what the hell is going on.

    3. … leading some to ask why such senior members of the Russian military are so close to the front-line.

      Because many of the Russian troops don’t want to fight, and prefer to just sit where they are. Thus the top brass is forced to go to the front line to try to get them to advance.

      1. Yes, I was just making a little joke but loosing several generals would indicate things are not quite right in the Russian army. During the first important battle of our war for independence, the battle of Long Island, Washington lost two generals for various reasons. In those days generals often were on the front lines but the Americans were badly overmatched and out numbered. It was a real mess and not the kind of mistake Washington could afford to make often. The first big mistake being to attempt to defend in the city of New York in the first place. Washington was always in On the Job Training (OJT) as they call it in the military.

    4. A relatively large number of Wehrmacht generals were killed in the Second World War, In contrast to the Allies. This had to do with the tactical leadership principle of “Führung von vorne” (leading from the front), which was exercised to a great extent by the Wehrmacht generals, e.g. Rommel or Guderian.

      As far as I know, the Soviet or now Russian generality was never a big fan of this leadership principle. But due to the current problems in warfare, they have to change their approach and make mistakes that are exploited by the Ukrainians with merciless efficiency.

      1. One of the reports I heard just today was one Russian general and some of his men were killed because he used a regular cell to make calls instead of a secure phone. The enemy was able to locate him and that was it.

  3. To quote Charles Stewart III, director of the Election Data and Science Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “My first reaction is ‘yikes’,”:

    Texas threw out mail votes at an abnormally high rate during the US’s first primary election of 2022, rejecting nearly 23,000 ballots outright under tougher voting rules that are part of a broad campaign by Republicans to reshape American elections, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

    Roughly 13% of mail ballots returned in the 1 March primary were discarded and uncounted across 187 counties in Texas. While historical primary comparisons are lacking, the double-digit rejection rate would be far beyond what is typical in a general election, when experts say anything above 2% is usually cause for attention.

  4. Any interesting passengers on the last voyage?

    Otherwise, I wonder if Putin has a cyanide capsule waiting in his tooth like Himmler?

  5. I am a little confused by the Russian assault on Karkov (forgive the archaic place names, but that’s how I learned it). As I understand it, this is a city that has a predominantly Russian population. They might feel themselves to be Ukrainian after this.

  6. So, Jerry, seeing as how it’s St. Paddy’s Day, have you gotten back the results of your DNA test and, if so, does it show any Irish heritage?

    Speaking of Irish food, my mom was Irish-Catholic and named Patricia, so today used to be her “Feast Day,” and she’d always celebrate by cooking us corned beef and cabbage. My mother-in-law, who was Boston Irish, always cooked corned beef and cabbage on St. Paddy’s Day, too. She’d call it “New England Boiled Dinner,” and, like my mom, would include potatoes (or “pahdaydahs” as she called them) and carrots, but she’d include turnips, too.

    1. Yes, I have but got it the day I left Chicago and haven’t had time to read it in detail and report on my heritage. I’ll do that when I get that, and so you’ll have to see if my matzo balls have a green tint.

    2. This year I splurged and bought a Wagyu brisket point…will it be worth the extra dosh? I like to put a bottle of Guinness in the pot, and instead of water, I use beef stock. I’ve added turnips and parsnips in the past, but this year, just sticking with cabbage/carrots/taters. The past few years I’ve used savoy cabbage, which I find superior to the standard. It’s one of my favorite meals, can’t wait!

      1. Lemme know how it comes out, Mark.

        Got a text from my sister first thing this morning saying she’d be keeping up the tradition of cooking corned beef & cabbage (along with an old picture of my mom dressed all in green for the holiday).

        1. Okay Ken, I’ll let you know how it turns out. Nice to hear your sis keeps up the tradition. I donned a pair of green pants today to celebrate the wee bit of Irish in me blood. 🙂

  7. That shoebill video is intense. Their legs look very branch-like in the water-even their feet do. I was so worried he was going to lose the fish at the last second.

    Does Peter Schiff not know what’s going on? “Times are hard” doesn’t quite cover it. I thought at first it had to be a joke. How on earth can anyone watching the news have that be what they take away from it? Even my fashion-obsessed teenagers aren’t making catty comments on clothing in Ukraine. Also, how ridiculous and pompous would it look for Zelenskyy to be prancing around in dressy outfits right now? Wouldn’t that be truly disrespectful? Where do these people come from?

    1. I’ll be closely watching the NY Times “Styles” section to see if fashion editor Vanessa Friedman, as is her wont when covering political types, makes a big to do about Zelenskyy’s “fashion sense.”

  8. > Can anybody read the Ukrainian?

    Heh, this mural is like 100 meters from where I live!
    It’s actually Russian. A quote from Saint-Exupéry I believe.
    “You are forever responsible for those you have tamed.”

  9. I don’t think Ms. Breckel realizes that engagement itself doesn’t often lead to civil discussion, but often to ostracism and name-calling.

    Well it’s kind of a vicious circle. ‘Not speaking up’ becomes more of the norm the more it is done, and students will assess the risk of ostracism etc. based on what they observe. If they observe ‘not speaking up’ a lot, they will likely assess that the risk of ostracism is high. Fortunately the cycle should work the other way too: every instance of speaking up and not being punished by ones’ peer group should make it easier to do it the next time, and lower the students’ estimate of what the ‘risk of ostracism [etc.]’ is.

    Good to hear about the ‘civic dialogue’ classes. That is pretty much exactly the thing we need; giving students practice, in a controlled environment, in discussing highly emotional issues. It doesn’t really even matter what the issue is or if anyone changes their minds; the point is to exercise the ability to step back and think academically about a subject that, without training, would likely provoke an emotional response, so they get good at that for when actual substantive discussions happen. Gotta toughen up those skins.

    1. The “civil dialogue” events are a good thing, but it will be only too predictable that we will see them vocally shut down for causing harm and making people feel unsafe.

      1. The whole “unsafe” thing is starting to drive me nuts.

        Is there anyplace is this paradigm for courage?


        1. Maybe “feeling unsafe” should be turned against the very sensitive — “When you stop me from expressing myself it makes me feel unsafe, like you’re trying to stop me from being heard!”

          Then we could debate who’s feelings were the more absurd.

      2. Maybe. I’d start with subjects that provoke some emotion but not a lot, where people are unlikely to use those defenses. Then slowly work up as the students get better at it. Start with training wheels, not the tour de France.

        1. Training wheels don’t help a child learn to ride a bicycle. He just pedals along with the bike leaning over on one training wheel, like a tricycle. He knows he can’t fall, or doesn’t even “get” that he could fall. They allow him to accompany his parents on outings when he is too big for a tricycle and has the strength to go faster than a kid’s trike can be pedalled. To learn balance—steer into the fall—he has to fall. I’m sure the same is true of speech.

          Besides, there is no subject that cannot be whipped into intense emotion, particularly if the stakes are really small. “Ukraine”, something that really matters, probably incites less vicious bitterness than whether the art supplies should be labelled “Coloured Paper” or “Paper of Colour” or “Oppressed Paper without White Privilege.” Moderation of the discussion is fine to point out incivility but don’t expect any topic to not provoke attempts to cancel it.

          Declare free speech and then eject people who try to silence it.

  10. Birth. 03 – 17 – 1862, Martha Platt Falconer, one the greatest of all pioneers in changing holding area of delinquent or homeless girls from virtual jails to homes for rehabilitation, education, and social adjustments. She pioneered her work at Sleighton Farm in Pennsylvania and the idea was gradually accepted throughout the nation.

    Birth. 03 – 17 – 1898, Ella Winter, Australian-born journalist who wrote extensively about Communist Russia.

    Birth. 03 – 17 – 1903, Radie Britain, composer, writer, teacher born near Amarillo, TX, won more than 50 national and international awards for her more than 150 classical compositions, trained at the American Conservatory in piano, organ, and composition, with advanced work and master classes in Germany. She taught at the Chicago Conservatory. Her daughter Lerae taught anthropology in Hawaii.

    Event. 03 – 17 – 1911, the formation of the Camp Fire Girls by Mrs. Luther Halsey Gulick is formally announced.

    Birth. 03 – 17 – 1930, Betty Allen, opera and concert singer became executive director of the Harlem School of the Arts which opera singer Dorothy Maynor founded.


    1. Thanks, Blue. I’ve added Martha P Falconer to Wikipedia’s March 17 list, so hopefully she’ll get picked up in next year’s post. I will try to add the others later.

      I’ll do my best to include more notable women tomorrow, although Wikipedia’s “On this day” lists and the encyclopedia itself are currently somewhat dominated by white dead royal dudes and their achievements for the usual historical reasons.

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